It has been several months since our return from the Tibetan Refugee Camps in Mainpat, India. I have recuperated and I have been moving forward with more missions. HERO is expanding their area of service as there seems to be need everywhere.

Our mission to Mainpat went very well. We treated over 1000 people and hit the ground running. We arrived early in the morning after a 17 hour bus ride from the airport. We got settled in and by noon we were treating our first patients. The team comprised many new volunteers who were eager to get started. Every day we set up clinic at one of the seven camps within the settlement. We treated malaria, vitamin A deficiency, infectious diarrhea, wounds, diabetes, hypertension, etc. We were able to provide medicine, vitamins, eyeglasses, sunglasses, nutritional support, etc.

Our new project this year was “solar cookers” led by Laura McGrath of HERO. Laura established a working relationship with a supplier in India and huge cookers were purchased by HERO from funds Laura raised. Each Monastery and camp was provided with a community cooker and also smaller cookers were purchased as well. After a “crash course” in solar cooking, the units were up and running and being used daily at the Monastery. This provided “green technology” to the refugees and reduced the need for wood and propane as a power source. The refugees were very excited to have this technology and Rinpoche was extremely pleased with this alternative power source. The wind towers HERO erected last year were standing tall when we arrived. The supplies needed to connect the towers did not arrive during our visit but Alan Francis, Josh and Leif, the engineers, were awesome and crossed trained as medical people helping the clinics daily. They also jumped in and did a structural analysis of the Monastery providing Rinpoche with the expertise he needed for future expansion of the facilities.

The mission this year was also strongly supported by the Lion’s Club and Alcon Laboratories. They supplied the glasses and eye drops needed to help protect the field workers’ vision from “black eye disease” or pterygiums which are inflammatory growths across the cornea that can lead to blindness. Noah Plumb became our resident eye specialist giving out eye glasses and sun glasses to those in need.

One of our big sponsors this year was Kahtoola! They were instrumental in supplying the funds needed to purchase medications, the automatic defibrillator and other valuable supplies to support this mission. We are grateful for their kind support and willingness to “Give Back” in this remote region of the world!

So where are we headed to next? We have a team returning to Copan, Honduras in June 2012. This mission will be led by Dr. Phil Garrod as I will be staying home to concentrate on fundraising and planning our next mission to a new site in Nicaragua. That mission is tentatively scheduled for February 2013. We will provide more details about this mission, the area, the people, the need, etc. Please stay tuned for updates!!!!

I wanted to personally thank everyone who was instrumental in this past mission to Mainpat. The volunteers who traveled were awesome and those volunteers who stayed home but helped to make it all possible were incredible. All of our sponsors, donors and well wishers made this mission possible. Your reward is the smile on a young child’s face, the wonder of fresh cooked rice from a solar cooker and the warm feeling in your heart at the end of the day knowing that you have given back and that you have made a difference in a small corner of the world.

— Dr. Julie